Hofbrauhaus Freising - Festbier
- ABV: 6.1%
- Bottle Size: 330-ml
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Mug or Stein
Presenting a bright golden hue with crystal clarity and an exuberant cap of off-white foam, this modern Oktoberfest-style brew drew us in with both its inviting appearance and its inviting noble hop aroma with spicy, grassy tones and a touch of lemony citrus. The first thing you may notice as you take a sip is this brew is a bit heftier than a pilsner, though they may look similar in the glass. Traditionally brewed in March (März), Märzen, the original Oktoberfest beer style, was brewed with more malt (which yields more fermentable sugars, which in turn yields more alcohol) in order to beef the beer up to survive storage through the summer months when it was generally too hot to brew. Since the 1990s, the beer commonly served at Oktoberfest has been the somewhat lighter style known as Festbier, as we have in this example from Freising. Look for a hefty malt core delivering bready, crackery notes along with subtle hints of toast and caramel. Overlaying this malty foundation is a satisfying spicy kick of hops, bolstered a bit by a touch of spicy alcohol which tends to come through more as the beer warms in the glass. Simple, flavorful, and deliciously drinkable, it's easy to see why this Festbier, and others of the style, are so popular during Oktoberfest celebrations in Bavaria and throughout Germany. For pairing options, we'd recommend sticking with the theme: soft pretzels with spicy mustard, schnitzel, and German sausages with sauerkraut. Prost!
Germany is home to some really, really old brewing enterprises, and Hofbrauhaus Freising, located in the city of the same name (known as "the heart of old Bavaria"), is definitely among the oldest. Documents indicate brewing was underway as far back as 1160, by Bishop Albert I of Harthausen. Back then the church was an extremely powerful political body, and the brewery remained in their hands through the construction of a new brewhouse in 1620 by Prince-Bishop Veit Adam, all the way to the beginning of the 19th century. It was then, in 1803, during a major secularizing shift in Germany, that ownership of the brewery left the church and came into the hands of the state of Bavaria.
In 1911, while the brewery was under the ownership of the counts Moy de Sons, a new brewery was designed and constructed by Theodor Ganzenmüller in the style of Art Nouveau. Ganzenmüller, a professor and brewing scientist at the nearby Weihenstephaner Academy (Weihenstephan is home to the oldest operating brewery in the world, dating to 1040), designed the brewhouse as a prototype for a new, modern style of brewery. When the beer first flowed in October of 1912, the brewery was the most advanced in all of Germany. Though upgrades and further modernizations have occurred since that time, it would appear Ganzenmüller knew what he was doing as the facility is still home to Hofbrauhaus Freising's brewing operations to this day.
Currently, Hofbrauhaus Freising is owned by the Bavarian counts of Törring-Jettenbach. The brewery produces pilsners, dark lager, märzen (Oktoberfest-style beer), multiple wheat beers, and even a line of non-alcoholic Caribbean-inspired lemonades and fruit drinks made with the brewery's incredibly pure spring water from their 120-meter deep well. For more info about the brewery, their restaurants, and beer gardens, visit www.hofbrauhaus-freising.de/en/.
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